From the Archives: August 1, 2010

Last week I received a rather sad email. Of course, I figured it would come…eventually. Even though it carried some sad news, it was upbeat. Supportive. Kind. Just like every other email I had received from Don Personius over the past 15 years. He’s a great cheerleader. I like cheerleaders (of the spiritual variety!). Don wrote to let me know that he and Alva had finally moved to Sonora. They’ve been going back and forth for years now. They have two kids and a bunch of grandchildren there, so it makes complete sense. Might as well enjoy your family and all the seasons California has to offer.

As Don and Alva leave, not many may not notice. They have not been around too much in the last five or so years. But I will notice. If you don’t know who they are — you may know Alva as lady who always wears a hat. Whenever they are in church, Alva wears a hat. The hat for Alva is an expression of her heart of submission to the Savior. She loves Jesus, that’s for sure. The Personius family (six kids and all) has been a critical tile in the Peninsula mosaic since they became members back in 1971. That is getting real close to 40 years ago!

I could say much about Don and Alva, but let me say that there was hardly a more godly couple around Peninsula. Through the ups and downs of life. Through the raising of six great children. Through the twists and turns of Peninsula. Through health struggles and victories, Don and Alva have been steadfast lovers of Jesus.

I remember getting their Christmas card a few months after I had arrived in 1994. It mentioned their new pastor and how much they loved and appreciated him. I was impressed — and wanted to go see this guy…but it was me! With six kids and a bushel of grandkids, I made the Christmas letter! And through the years, I have always appreciated their encouragement. Their notes on the Connect (even though I didn’t always like them) were a source of stimulation and spiritual strengthening. Every one of them.

In the years that Don had the time, he served on the Elder board. Don exemplifies every single aspect of the biblical description for an elder. His family all loves the Lord. His integrity is impeccable. He modeled hospitality. So as they move to Sonora, they leave behind a hole in our midst. And in my heart. Good people tend to do that. And those who have invested decades at Peninsula leave an even bigger hole. But we all follow the same Lord and will one day swap stories of grace around the throne of grace.

So farewell, Don and Alva. God speed. You did admit you were leaving the best climate in the world. So if Sonora gets unbearable, you have a home here. Always. And I hope you have to sign papers down here for the sale of your house. We’d like to provide a proper farewell.

We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers.  We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hoped in our Lord Jesus Christ.  1 Thessalonians 1:2-3

Ed. note:  Alva has since passed away, but Don continues to enjoy his family in Sonora.